Cottisford Church Organ

Notes on the Organ in the Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Cottisford Oxfordshire [N00141] [i]

The organ was built by Samuel Parsons, London[ii] and is dated 1845 and 1846. There is an engraved brass nameplate on the key thumper cover with the wording:
Saml. Parson/Little Russell St., Bloomsbury, London
When the organ windchest faceboard is opened it is possible to see a printed trade card pasted to the back wall of the pallet box. The printed wording, around engraved scrolling is:
SAMl PARSONS/ ORGAN BUILDER/ (unreadable address)/LONDON. Amendments have been made by hand in ink: At the top of the card: 1845. the original printed street address has been crossed out. At the bottom appears:
2 Little Russell Street . The extreme right pallet (no. 58) is marked 1846

The organ was given by Mrs Ethel Fletcher in memory of a former Rector, Dr Sherard Montagu Statham. [iii] Mrs Fletcher had been a servant of the Statham family since she was 14, when they lived in Kent. Statham died in 1947 and Mrs Fletcher became matron of a Choir Preparatory School in Lichfield. The organ came from the Chapel at Steane Park, Northants, but was probably installed at the Rectory before it came to the church [iv]. It was probably installed in the church in the late 1940s In 1966 John Conyers overhauled the organ and fitted the electric blower. This was organised by Rev. Alfred Barton. There is a Conyers nameplate above and inside the console

The Casework is veneered in mahogany, and has typical details for a chamber organ. The keyboard can be pushed in like a drawer and the console area enclosed by a hinged panel which drops down when open. There are four “flats” of gilded wooden half-round dummy pipes with metal ears, arranged 3-7-7-3, within Gothic style arched tops

The drawstops (placed both sides of the keyboard) are small wooden knobs on square shanks and the labels are ivory inserts engraved in copperplate style. (The lable of the Fifteenth is missing. The keys have black naturals and white sharps. These key covers have been much restored and replaced. There are 58 notes, GG/AA to f3. The 12 brass-faced toe pedals are permanently coupled to the lowest 12 keys. All the pipework is enclosed in a louvred swell box opened by a pedal which can be held down against a notch. All the pipes appear to be original and of consistent design, and are either of plain pipe metal or pine. Some of the Principal pipes near middle c are marked with the name of the note a semitone below the present note. There are also some Fifteenth pipes marked 12th with note names a fourth below.

Stop list:
1 Stopped Diapason Bass 8 28 pipes
2 Stopped Diapason Treble 8 from mid C 30
3 Dulciana 8 treble from mid C 30
4 Principal 4 lowest 6 st.wd. 58
5 Flute 4 treble from mid C 30
6 Fifteenth 2 58

Blowing: Electric or hand, Tuning: Equal temperament Pitch: A=441 at 21 deg C. 2 composition pedals (wood, and like the toe pedals. Right throws all but Flute, Left withdraws Prin, 15th, Flute. These are not fully functioning

References and notes
Cottisford and its church: A local history by the Revd. C Rayner-Smith FRGS, (Rector 1951-1957) Revised by the Revd. John M. Sergeant M.A. (Rector post 1968). 1972 Edition with introduction by William Bell. , 1989 Edition (reset, plus minor updating) with introduction by William Bell. A section reads: “The organ is eighteenth century and came from the chapel in Steane Park. It was given by Miss Ethel Fletcher in memory of the late Rector, the Rev. Dr. S.M.Statham. In 1966 thanks to the enthusiasm of the Rev. Alfred Barton and the proceeds of a well attended garden fete, it was thoroughly overhauled and an electric blower installed by John Conyers”
Cottisford Revisited. by Ted and Joan Flaxman (Old School, Cottisford NN13 5SW) June 1999. – General notes on Dr. Statham and Ethel Fletcher

n1. Information on organ recorded in the National Pipe Organ Register (NPOR) available on the internet In 1999 the organ was awarded a Historic Organ Certification by the British Institute of Organ Studies (BIOS)
n2.Samuel Parsons was a member of an organ building family working in Bloomsbury in the early 19th century. He is known to have built barrel and finger organs between 1845 and 1868, according to information and references given in Langwill and Boston, Church and Chamber Barrel Organs, 2nd ed 1970. See also BIOS Reporter vol 3/2 Jan 1979 p 11 and April 1979 p.8. Also The Organ no. 96 : A Freeman: “The Four Parsons”
n3.Photo displayed in screened-off vestry area at back of church. Statham was Rector from 1911 to 1947
n4 Information given to Mr E Flaxman by Statham’s grandaughters

Notes compiled by Brian Carlick, organ tuner, Charlton on Otmoor, January 2000

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Tuning of Organs (Organs have pipes!)

Tuning of Pipe Organs


Brian Carlick


Tuning of Pipe Organs from Brian Carlick

I tune and maintain the organs in a number of churches (and a couple of private venues) in and around Oxfordshire. I mainly work in the villages. I have been doing this work for about 30 years but I started with a general interest in the history of musical instruments. Before I became an organ tuner I made Early Woodwind Instruments such as Gemshorns and Three-hole Pipes. I also constructed a kit spinet and owned a harpsichord. I have worked on small reed organs. I am a local village church organist mainly playing for regular services in the villages near where I live. I was responsible for building or rebuilding the small organs I play and also enjoy playing the French Harmonium in Murcott Mission Room once per month. I occasionally play the organs in villages further afield mainly for weddings and funerals.

While electronic instruments seem to be attractive to some people who cannot discern the difference between a genuine wind or stringed instrument and a device that produces sound through loudspeakers I find them lacking and therefore I am not happy to play them. I am unqualified and uninterested in maintaining them. I am quite often asked by people who have older home enertainment electronic organs whether I know a good home for them when they are unwanted. I have to restrain when replying!

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Organ in Parish Church of St John, Hailey, Witney

hailey 002 - Copy

NPOR ref. D00843

Small and with only the bass octave of 16ft Bourdon pipes on the manual keys (permanently coupled to the pedals). Boldly voiced and very effective.

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The Otmoor Review

The Otmoor Review is a local news magazine (A4 pages) based at Charlton on Otmoor, Oxfordshire UK. It is mainly concerned with Charlton and the neighbouring villages of Oddington and Fencott-and-Murcott. It originated at the village primary school in about 1978 but is edited by a team of volunteers from the village. It always contains church news, school news, local club news and articles on local history or people living in the village. I am intending to contribute an article about my own life and articles on aspects of local history. Articles can be submitted at

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Great Barrington, Gloucestershire, Church, Organ



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